As I stood in the blazing sun, up to my elbows in chicken feathers on Saturday, I was listening to the conversation wafting about me. In amongst the flies. One of our group of four has lived in the area for many years - since the early 70s. As he recounted the amazing stories of small-town characters, I realized that you didn't have to travel to Europe or even the Big Apple to write the great American novel. Or even the semi-great American novel. You could move to our town. There was wife-swapping, a bigamist who managed to keep two families within 15 miles of each other completely separate and in the dark, a town inspector who left his wife (and girlfriend) for another girlfriend, and a thriving pot growing business on hundreds of acres (finally discovered by the Feds). It was amazing.
Lately, I have been shutting off all noise-making objects (except my refrigerator) and living in the silence. Of course, it is seldom silent - there are the chickens, who carry-on like no ones' business, the birds, the wind, my wind chimes, the neighbor's cows - fat, glossy things, the sheep - fat, fuzzy things. There is the clicking of the dog/cat toenails on the floor. The scuttling of (bloody little) chipmunks through the gutters. The incessant back-up sirens of heavy equipment, crunch and crash of machinery and gravel, downshifting of dump trucks as they grind to and from my corner. There is no lack of sound. It is ALL preferable to the news.
As I was whipping up Father's Day dinner and dessert, I was musing on how all the women in our family approach recipes from different directions. My mother, German goddess that she is, follows it so closely that she will refuse to make something if she doesn't have the very item called for. My youngest sister scoffs at recipes and can make amazing things from thin air (or a paltry assortment of pantry items). My other sister is closer to my mother, but will substitute if pushed. I start off with the "idea" of the recipe, without usually seeing if I have the ingredients. Then I ad lib. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. But I don't worry about it. Perhaps I should... When we were kids, and our chins cleared the top of the kitchen counters, my mother started working on us. Besides dishes (and the endless fights over who got to wash - done first - and who got to dry - done last), she created "Sunday Chef". One Sunday of the month, each of us got to create and cook a menu. The only taboo things were pricey items (my Lobster Thermador got a thumbs down, as did my Pate de Foie Gras), things she couldn't find in our local grocery store and weird things - like Sea Cucumbers. Kidding. Those things are so icky they deserve the gold medal for icky. Other than that, anything went. We would spend days combing through her cookbooks (Betty Crocker, Fanny Farmer, Joy of Cooking circa 1943 - which I still have) and present our menu. My middle sister and I were slightly adventurous, but my youngest sister invented fusion. Think Swedish Meatballs Chop Suey. Yes, she made it and we ate it. But the entire process engendered excitement about cooking and food and a lifelong interest in ingredients and nurturing. Not to mention, for a few of us, a lifelong abhorrence of anything 'fusion'.